gift guide: the ultimate beginner’s sewing kit
I’ve noticed a trend in my holiday wish lists: I never want mere “things”, I want “things for making things”. Last year it was an orbital sander, the year before all I wanted were some high-quality Gingher shears. And really, what better gift is there than the gift of creativity? It’s a gift of unlimited possibilities.
When I worked at a certain large chain fabric store, the most common question I was asked at Christmastime was, “where are your sewing kits?” And, somehow, we didn’t have a good answer. We only had tiny mending kits with weak scissors, a few needles, and easily torn thread. I’m saving you from all that with this comprehensive list of sewing basket essentials: they’re all my favorites. And best yet? Most of them will ship in 2 days with Amazon Prime.
SNIP: Gingher 5″ Craft Scissors, $14; Cutter Bee Precision-Cut Scissors, $9
Good snips are crucial for all machine- and hand-sewing. Nothing is more frustrating than dull scissors that can’t snip a thread!
The Ginghers are super high quality – they’re the snips I use most often, and the sharp, sturdy end is perfect for installing safety eyes. The CutterBee snips are lightweight and wonderful for just about anything, and they come with a nice guard that makes them very portable.
MEASURE: Clover Retractable Tape Measure, $7; Dritz Extra-Long Tape Measure 120″, $5
From curtain hems to inseams, a flexible tape measure is essential for working with fabric. The retractable ones are tidiest (and this one is extra high quality), but for larger projects the full tape is key.
CUT: Gingher 8-Inch Dressmaker’s Shears, $27; Fiskars 8-Inch Razor-Edge Bent Scissors, $16; Fiskars 8-Inch Non-Stick Bent Scissors, $11
I’m obsessed with my Gingher shears. They are worth every penny. But you can never have enough scissors – especially if you’re like me and tend to set them down in the most ridiculous places.
Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion, $14; Wrights Glass Head Pins, $4; Dritz Quilting Pearlized Pins, $6
The Grabbit Pin Cushion changed the art of pinning for me. I used to have an older pin magnet, and an errant swipe of my arm would send pins flying around the room. This one falls on the floor and all the pins stay on it. If you drop pins on the floor, hover the Grabbit over them and it will pick them up. It’s life changing. Seriously.
RIP: Fons and Porter Ergonomic Seam Ripper, $5; Dritz 5-1/2″ Seam Ripper, $4
Sorry, but every beginner (and intermediate, and expert!) is going to need a seam ripper. I also recommend naming the seam ripper so you hate it less. Up there you see Marvin (blue) and Bessie (red). Bessie is comfy on the hands but less heavy-duty – I’ve snapped a few Bessies on the heavier projects. But I keep buying them because they sit nicely in my hand.
TURN: Turn It All, $10
This set of three tubes & rods is the most ingenious sewing tool I’ve ever encountered. It makes turning narwhal tusks, spaghetti straps, octopus legs – all those things that were painful to even think about – manageable and EASY. Plus, the dowel rods double as stuffing sticks. I can’t recommend this tool enough.
That’s a great start to a well-stocked sewing basket! Add in a pack of needles ($4), and the seamstress/seamster in your life will be ready to tackle just about any project that comes their way.
Did I miss anything? What are your favorite sewing tools, and what would you recommend for building up one’s sewing supplies?
(links are amazon referral links, but i put this list together as a helpful review of my favorite things. these are all my honest opinions and nobody paid me to put this here. i hope you find it helpful!)